On her second album New York-via-New Orleans songwriter Erin Durant teamed up with TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone to create an odyssey of sorts. Durant’s sophomore record Islands is a journey unto itself. These 8 songs blur the lines between reality and fiction and hold a sense of mystery in their uncluttered vignettes of life.
Erin Durant’s path to music has been a rich and winding one. Rarely does an artist appear, as if out of thin air, with a body of work so lushly depicted and self-assured, but to chalk any of this up to luck does a disservice to the patience and time Durant has allotted her musical landscape. Lyrically, she composes most songs in concert with her piano, songs that tend to unfold structurally like a memory or a scene from a movie. As a performer, Durant transports a portable 3/4 size acoustic piano to venues without a piano of their own. To hear her play the instrument makes plain her case for the extra effort. Her music is rooted by an ongoing dialogue between the physicality of her playing and the high, clear tone of her singing voice. Enmeshed with one another, it is a stirring display of an artist in full possession of herself and her vision.
Islands sprawls out in front of you, weaving disparate stories into a concise meditation on loss. The songs, each their own world, touch on the ability to find meaning in minutiae, the importance of awareness and mindfulness in finding your footing in a world that, at times, seems irreparably imbalanced. On “Take A Load Off” Durant tells a story of a weary traveler, disoriented but pulled into revelry in an attempt to assuage their loss. While the titular track “Islands” takes a similar tact, focusing on the conflicting process of attempting to find joy when joy seems lost. Islands is a continuously shifting landscape attempting to tackle loss and joy, with a knowing nod to the inevitability of these shifts and, ultimately, an acceptance of it all.
Grounding Durant’s entire catalog is the overwhelming warmth and care with which her songs are delivered. They are a champagne toast that accompany a life well-lived. If you look beyond the warm piano chords and the soaring vocals, you’ll find songs made of grit resiliency, much like the artist herself. Prepare yourself to be spirited away by them.